US 31 Through Franklin

One of the hardest things to do as a researcher in transportation history is to put logic and active thought aside to deal with government plans. When I did the Road Trip 1926 series, I followed the maps issued by the Indiana State Highway Commission as close as possible. However, sometimes maps are unavailable, or worse, unknown to exist by me, so I end up making logical conclusions. Most of the time, this works out great. Other times, not so much.

Such is the case with US 31 through Franklin. When I did the “Road Trip 1926: US 31,” I naturally assumed that the original State Road 1 turned national highway went through Franklin following the old Madison State Road. It was, after all, the route that was used to make the highway. And it did.

A little research, and a knowledge of how the state works, and what I thought I knew needs a little tweaking. The Madison State Road came from Indianapolis and into Franklin along Main Street. It left Franklin to the south along State Street. A logical conclusion would be that State Street would be the old state road to Monroe Street, where it travelled Monroe to the courthouse. Here it got a little convoluted, since connecting Jefferson and Monroe Streets gets a little interesting.

But then I found a USGS topo map of Franklin from 1948. And the route of the old US 31 through the town became perfectly clear.

1948 USGS Topographic map of the US 31 bypass of Franklin, Indiana.

US 31 was such an important route that it was made a hard surface road very quickly. It was one of the first roads in Indiana to be made completely hard surface through the entire state. Because it was given such a treatment, it is easy to follow through Franklin, if you know where to look.

1948 USGS Topographic Map of the route of old US 31 through Franklin.

Armed with new information, I can now say, with more certainty, that the route of US 31 through the Johnson County seat came in from the north along Main Street. At Jefferson Street, it turned west to turn south on what is now West Court Street. (That street is now one way north.) West Court Street is only one block long, connecting Jefferson and Monroe Streets.

Here the old road returns to Main Street by going east on Monroe Street. Turning south on Main Street, the original US 31 travels until it reaches South Street. From here, it follows South Street east to the end of the road, which is State Street. South of this point was the original Madison State Road, and the route of US 31. To this day, it is still called Old US 31.

Then again, looking at the last snippet, I could still be wrong. A quick glance will show that there are three hard surface roads in Franklin. One is Jefferson Street from the courthouse west. That was SR 44 through Franklin. (SR 44 was decommissioned between SR 144 west of Franklin to I-65 east of the city.)

One is the route of US 31 as described above. The last one is Walnut Street from Main Street to Jefferson Street. It is entirely possible that this might have been part of US 31. I would doubt that to be the case. But it IS the point of this article to prove that I can be wrong occasionally when it comes to following roads through towns. Until access to more maps becomes available, or until things get back to semi-normal in the world, we will have to make do with what we can find online.

And keep searching, I will.

US 52 And the End Of SR 100

I have discussed numerous times that history of one of the most well known state roads in Indiana…State Road 100. If you would like to see the first post I did on the subject, check out “SR 100: How Did It Come To Be,” a blog entry that appeared on ITH on 9 March 2019.

But when exactly did Shadeland Avenue, the road still called Road 100 by mostly older locals, end being SR 100? And why did it just go away?

The answer stems from a very small inaccuracy that I made when it came to the state roads coming into Indianapolis. Indiana has a law on the books that only allows INDOT to carry an inventory of 12,000 miles of roads. When I say roads, basically anything that carries a state issued number is part of the system. When it comes to interstates, the ramps connecting the interstate to another street or road are also counted. I have mentioned it before…it leads to some very out of the way posted detours.

The inaccuracy came from when I mentioned US 52 on the southeast side of Marion County. US 52 was the first road that was removed from Indianapolis, and placed on the new Interstate 465 bypass. It was the first road that didn’t get into Indianapolis past I-465. But this isn’t entirely accurate. On the southeast side, the designation US 52 DID travel within the loop…but barely. When the bypass of US 52 was created, there was no direct connection between US 52 (Brookville Road) and I-465. Or, more to the point, there was only half a connection. For the US 52 bypass to work, Brookville Road continued to be US 52 until it reached SR 100, Shadeland Avenue, one half mile later.

1995 MapIndy aerial photo of US 52 and its connections to SR 100
and Interstate 465 on the east side of Marion County

This made the US 52 bypass use part of SR 100 in its route. As I-465 was completed, and legally replaced SR 100, the SR 100 designation started to be rolled back. In the early 1970’s, most of the route was given back to Indianapolis (which by that time covered the entire county). All of the signs marking SR 100 were removed. But the state still held on to the small section on the east side connecting I-465 to US 40 (Washington Street at the Cloverleaf). This remained legally SR 100, even though it was no longer marked as such.

Personal note here. As much as I have lived on the east side of Marion County in my life, I have never, other than on a map, actually ever seen a SR 100 sign. The closest I have come are the little blue reference markers that aren’t mileposts, but are numbered one mile apart most of the time. I have seen several times little blue signs with white lettering that read “SR 100.”

After a while, INDOT even stopped marking the Official Highway Maps with the designation SR 100. It still belonged to the state, but it was a shadow state road. Unless you knew it was SR 100, there was nothing telling you that it ever was.

Due to the way that I-465 was built, the US 52 bypass would travel around the south side of Marion County, until it reached the original I-465 connection to I-65 on the northwest side.

2001 MapIndy aerial photo of US 52 and its connections to I-465
and Shadeland Avenue on the east side of Marion County

On 1 July 1999, INDOT officially rerouted both US 31 and US 40 along the I-465 loop, decommissioning those two roads inside the bypass. Both would use the south and east legs of the loop. Because US 40 no longer existed between the two interchanges with I-465, SR 100 was officially decommissioned in its entirety from I-465 to US 40, removing the number 100 from the state inventory. The section from Brookville Road south to the interstate was still part of the state road system, as there still was no complete connection between US 52 and I-465.

By 2001, a connection from I-465 north to US 52 was completed, and the ramps connecting Brookville Road to Shadeland Avenue southbound were removed. This also led to a rather large reconstruction of both Shadeland Avenue and I-465 at this point, with the wide sweeping curves that had been present before completely removed. By the end of 2001, the ramp connecting Brookville Road to I-465 was completed, officially removing any section of all state roads inside the I-465 loop. It was also at this time that the official US 52 was routed north on I-465. Thus it traveled across the north side of the county, and along what became I-865 to Whitestown.

The official end of SR 100 was on 1 July 1999. But it was kept alive by the state for 20+ years, at least in part, due to the original plan of connecting US 52 to the bypass.

I-465 and I-70, Marion County East Side, A Pictorial History

Today, I want to take a look at the interchange between Interstates 70 and 465 on the east side of Marion County…in pictorial form. This history will cover from 1962 to 1993, with what aerial photographs are available from MapIndy, the official mapping application of Indianapolis/Marion County. It will also cover the interchange between Interstate 70 and Shadeland Avenue, which was SR 100 before, and for some time after, the building of its replacement, I-465.

1962
1972
1978
1979
1986
1993

Two of the constrictions at the location of this interchange were both 21st Street and Franklin Road. Franklin Road had been in place since it was created as the Noblesville-Franklin State Road early in the state’s history. As you can tell from the photos, the routing of Franklin Road was changed between 21st Street and around 25th Street. The original routing of the road is still in place, but contains two dead end sections at the interstate.

21st Street has been around for a whole lot of years, as well. Maps show that it was added to the county sometime between 1870 and 1889. In 1889, there was a toll house for the Pleasant Run Pike on the northwest corner of 21st Street and Shadeland Avenue. From what I can tell, the only part of the road that was a toll road was from Arlington Avenue to Mitthoeffer Road. Today, 21st Street can be followed from Massachusetts Avenue at the Bee Line (Big Four – Conrail – CSX) Railroad to a point just northwest of Charlottesville.

The ramp from I-70 West to I-465 South was under construction in 1978, and would be completed in 1979. Prior to this, that traffic movement was handled by a loop ramp, as the interchange was originally built as a 3/4 cloverleaf. By 1993, the current collector/distributor system connecting Shadeland Avenue to both I-70 and I-465 was completed.

The ramps to Shadeland Avenue have always been a very tight fit into the area allowed.

Winona Interurban

In the Interurban age in Indiana, there were light rail, or electric traction, trains going almost every direction one could think of. Today, I want to focus on what was called the Winona Interurban…a traction company that ran from Goshen to Peru. It’s history was brief…maybe a little over two decades. But it did serve a function. And it was well remembered years after its demise…and even had trains running on it into the 1960s.

Construction began on the proposed Warsaw & Goshen Interurban Company in 1904. The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the company was held at Winona Lake on 16 August 1904. Officers elected at that time include H. J. Heinz of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as President, and a director from South Bend named J. M. Studebaker. The Warsaw & Goshen was to build between the two title cities, connecting, at Warsaw, to the Winona & Warsaw Interurban, allowing passengers to travel from Goshen to Winona Lake. The Indianapolis News of 26 August 1904 reported that “necessary surveys have already been completed, and work will commence within a few days. It is the expectation to have the road in running order by spring.”

One of the major concerns for the road is that the Winona Interurban was essentially owned by the Winona Assembly, the Presbyterian organization that also had extensive holdings at Winona Lake. That is how H. J. Heinz and John M. Studebaker were involved with the interurban project. Both of them, at different points in history, directed the Winona Assembly. This would lead to problems with the operation of the railroad in years to come.

The entire line went into operation in 1906.

As is typical of Indiana railroad history, the Winona Interurban found itself in financial trouble…and receivership. The Indianapolis News of 9 June 1908 reported that “a bill of complaint has been filed in the Federal Court by the Electrical Installation Company, with headquarters in Chicago, against the Winona Interurban Railway Company, the Winona Assembly and Summer Schools Association and the Winona & Warsaw Railway Company, in which it is asked, among other things, that the Winona Interurban Railway Company be ordered to operate its road every day in the week instead of only six, and that a receiver should be appointed.”

The suit was brought because the Electric Installation Company, as a contractor on the road, was given bonds in the route to the tune of $425,000. The EIC claims that the traction company made numerous statements that the route would be open on Sundays, but that it was never written in contracts “on the ground that such a clause might be objectionable to many of the stockholders and constituents of the Winona Assembly and Summer Schools Association.” This, the EIC felt, was too much of an earnings loss to bear. Due to the loss of what was believed to be 20% more income, the company was unable to pay any interest on the bonds over and above operating and maintenance costs since it opened in 1906. “Part of certain subsidies granted in Elkhart and Kosciusko counties has been used in the payment of interest.” The EIC also feels that the railroad will be unable to meet the interest payment due on 1 July 1908.

Due to the conflict of interest between the Winona Assembly and the Winona Interurban Railway Company, the EIC asked for a receiver to be put in place to allow for payment of approximately $30,000 in debt, payment of interest, and to allow the courts to remove the legally questionable ownership of the interurban line from the Winona Assembly.

Sunday service along the line was finally started in February 1909, the same time that it was announced that the railway was constructing a continuation of the line from Winona Lake to Peru, some 44 miles distant. The section from Winona Lake to Goshen was listed at 25 miles. An official of the Winona Interurban Railway Company, and Secretary and General Manager of the Winona Assembly Association, Dr. Sol C. Dickey, resigned his post with the railway due to the objection of running railroads on Sunday…something the Assembly had been against since the beginning.

The franchise creating the legal right to run the railway included Sunday service…although it was never enforced. The Indianapolis News of 19 February 1909 stated that it was never enforced due to “attention being called to the fact that it was impossible under the laws of Indiana to force any man to work on Sunday.”

The service on the Warsaw to Peru line, according to the same News article, would be opened to Mentone within a few days. That would cover 13 of the 44 miles between Warsaw and Peru.

The Winona Interurban Railway Company would find itself in a financial pickle when it was announced in December 1915 that the original bonds, called “Twenty year Five Per Cent First Mortgage Gold Bonds,” dated 1 July 1905, had fallen into default due to lack of interest payment on 1 October 1915, and the pending non-payment of interest on 1 January 1916.

By July 1916, the First Trust and Savings Bank of Chicago, having been the deposit organization for the bonds listed above, asked for a receiver to be appointed for the Winona Interurban Railway Company. The bank was the trustee for $750,000 worth of the above bonds issued for the Goshen Division of the line. The traction company, it is reported, defaulted on the payment of $37,500 of interest. Although the bonds were for the Goshen division (completed in 1905), a receiver is asked for the entire company, including the Peru division (completed in 1910). However, the Peru division was under the trusteeship of the Union Trust Company of Indianapolis.

Peru division bonds were $1.5 million of the allowed $3 to be issued. The Indianapolis Star of 23 July 1916 reports that John H. Holliday, founder of both the Indianapolis News and the Union Trust Company, had $50,000 personally invested in the traction company. “H. J. Heinz of Pittsburgh, the pickle king, has about $1,000,000 invested in the Winona Interurban. J. M. Studebaker of South Bend is another creditor, having over $100,000 invested.” (As an aside, 1916 is also the year Holliday gave his White River estate to the city of Indianapolis to create a 80 acre park.)

The Lafayette Journal & Courier of 15 December 1922 reported that the Winona Interurban Railway Company had filed notice, under a new Indiana state law, of its intention to surrender local franchises and permits. The company would then operate under an indeterminate permit under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Public Service Commission. These franchises and permits that were being surrendered included those in Goshen, Warsaw, Peru, Milford Junction, Leesburg and Mentone, as well as county franchises in Elkhart, Kosciusko, Fulton and Miami Counties.

It was reported in the Indianapolis Star of 25 May 1923 that the Winona Interurban Railway Company was, in fact, in possession of assets of about $3,000,000 with the road and equipment valued at about $2,300,000. The Winona & Warsaw Railroad, technically leased by the Winona, earned $8,000 a year in lease income. That lease, for 3.13 miles of trackage from Warsaw to the Winona Assembly, was for 99 years. Total earnings for the company came to $300,000 per year, at least according to the Star.

Reports in March 1924 were being floated that the Winona would be leased and controlled by the Interstate Public Service Company, the same outfit that owned the Greenwood line stretching from Indianapolis to Seymour and Louisville. The Winona line was inspected by people involved with the Interstate Public Service Company in mid-June 1924. The Winona was bid upon at a receivers sale in 1924. It had been in the hands of a receiver, former State Senator C. J. Munton of Kendallville, since 1916. The IPSC was controlled by Samuel Insull, a collector of interurban properties. In Indiana, he had come into possession of the interurban lines out of Indianapolis and Terre Haute, among other places, and consolidated them later into the Indiana Railroad Company.

Unlike most interurban lines in Indiana, the Winona would survive the end of the interurban era…barely. It had changed its name to the Winona Railroad Company in 1926, focusing more on freight than passengers. After a while, the company would drop passenger traffic from the rails, moving them to busses, in the mid to late 1930’s. Freight continued to be run along the line for many years.

The end of the company would occur on 15 June 1952. Abandonment was in order for several years prior to this point, but the Indiana Public Service Commission would not allow it until arrangements were made with the “steam’ railroads to take over freight service for the segment connecting Winona Lake to New Paris and the street running in Center Street in east Warsaw. Such arrangements were made with the Pennsylvania Railroad in early May 1952. Other sections had already been abandoned prior to this point. And thus, the Winona Railroad went away.

Indiana Vs. Terre Haute and Indianapolis Railroad

In 1899, the state of Indiana brought forth a lawsuit against the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad for tax money due for the school fund. It started with a charter. In the early days of Indiana, to create a railroad company (and basically any company, as far as that goes), a charter for the company and its goals would have to be written and taken before the Indiana General Assembly for approval. I would love to say that these things were basically rubber stamped…but I truly have no way of knowing without extensive research.

The Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad was issued it original charter by the Indiana General Assembly in 1831. The name on the charter was the Terre Haute & Indianapolis. The TH&I was then issued a special charter as the Terre Haute & Richmond Rail Road on 24 January 1847. The company was to build a railroad between the two title cities, through Indianapolis. The official name of the company had changed twice between the special charter of 1847 and the court case of 1899. First, in 1850, the space was taken out between rail and road, making it the Terre Haute & Richmond Railroad legally. Then, in 1865, the name was changed to suit the actual extent of the railroad company. It became the Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad Company.

Newspapers of the time often refer to the legal action against the Terre Haute & Indianapolis as the Vandalia Case. By the time of the legal action, the TH&I was already leasing the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute, the only line (for a while) connecting Indianapolis to St. Louis. The St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute was known most of the time as the Vandalia. The Vandalia was in financial trouble while under construction. Money was floated from five railroad companies to complete the route in 1870: Terre Haute & Indianapolis, Pennsylvania, Panhandle, Steubenville and the Indiana Central. The last three being consolidated later into the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, also nicknamed the Panhandle. The Pennsylvania would gain control of the Panhandle and the Vandalia…although the Terre Haute & Indianapolis would fight it the entire way.

The whole case stemmed from how the charter for the TH&I was read, and who was doing the reading. The State of Indiana was of the opinion that the TH&I owed the School Fund somewhere between $1.2 and $2 million dollars. Obviously, the TH&I was of the opposite opinion. The entire case stemmed from a special charter that had been issued for the company in 1847, give or take a year. The new charter, keeping a provision from the old one, would allow the railroad to set its own passenger and freight rates, and allow for a 15% profit to be split among its shareholders after all of the construction bills have been paid.

The state, in its case, claimed that the TH&I was setting its rates to a point where it was earning 18% to 35% profits. Since the limit was 15%, the rest, the state continued, would be required to be paid to the state school fund. Vandalia saw things differently.

The South Bend Tribune of 4 October 1899 describes the beginning of the case as such: “Noble C. Butler, as master in chancery, began taking testimony, Monday afternoon (2 October 1899), in the case of the state against the Vandalia railroad for money due the school fund on account of the special charter under which the road operated 20 years ago.”

“Experts have been examining the company’s books to ascertain the exact earnings and the proportionate amount due the state, and their testimony is expected to be interesting. About $2,000,000 is claimed to be due the school fund from the railroad.” (Source: South Bend Tribune, 4 October 1899, pp 1 via newspapers.com.)

When the time came to defend itself, the Vandalia brought out John G. Williams, a man, according to the Indianapolis News of 17 January 1900, “who is said to know more about the affairs of the road than any other man.” Attorney Williams started talking about the charter of the Terre Haute & Richmond, the charters of other railroads, and the fact that when the original charters were written for the early railroads, the company had a choice between building a railroad and building a toll road. The state saw no real difference between the two.

He also mentioned that, according to the News, “one of the first roads built in the State was the Baltimore & Ohio. In the beginning, its cars were moved by horses and, when the wind was favorable, sails were hoisted on the cars to help propel them.” I would be that the News meant in the United States, as the Baltimore & Ohio wouldn’t have been in Indiana in 1831.

Reference is also made by the attorney for the railroad that in the beginning, the B&O charged 4 cents a ton a mile for moving of freight. “Modern railroads” (1900) are lucky to get one half cent per ton/mile. And passengers were actually weighed and charged essentially a pro-rated charge of 4 cents per ton/mile. If I am reading this right, since I weigh 200 pounds, it would cost me eight cents to travel by train from Indianapolis to Greenfield in those days. If I lived then…and the train actually was built to connect the two.

Mr. Williams went on to argue that the ability to regulate tolls by the state was left out of the charters of seven of the eight railroads that were incorporated in 1832. All eight of these charters allowed for the company to build a railroad or turnpike. Also in 1832, a company applied for a charter to build a bridge across the Ohio River at the Falls, the location of New Albany and/or Jeffersonville, and Louisville on the Kentucky side.

In 1832, five more railroads were incorporated, including the Evansville & Lafayette. It, like the Terre Haute & Indianapolis (1831 charter), had a clause stating that the State of Indiana could purchase the road after a certain period. Very few railroad company charters included the state regulation of the amount of dividends to its shareholders.

Ultimately, the Vandalia won the original case. Special Master Butler determined that the state was owed nothing by the Vandalia. The State appealed to the Superior Court, in which it was determined that the Vandalia owed the state of Indiana $913,000.

According to the Indianapolis Journal of 18 June 1902, as the case was being brought before the Indiana Supreme Court, “the charter provided that the company should pay the State its surplus earnings over the operating expenses and 10 per cent to the stockholders. The company surrendered its special charter in 1873 and has since operated under the general railroad law.” The company claimed that the surplus money was spent to improve the road, and there was no money left to pay the state.

The case before the Indiana Supreme Court lasted three days, ending on 19 June 1902. When the ruling went against the Vandalia, the Pennsylvania Railroad announced that they would appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court. That decision was made on 28 November 1902.

The Indiana Supreme Court judgement ruled that the Vandalia must pay $913,905, and a six percent interest from the date of the Superior Court judgement. This brought to total to $1,028,143. Of course, the state was to only receive $771,107 of that, with the rest going to attorney’s fees. The Vandalia would fall into receivership after the ruling, and arguments between Illinois and Indiana receivers would follow.

31 May 1904, and the United States Supreme Court ruled, after much deliberation, that the Vandalia Railroad owed a grand total of nothing to the state of Indiana School Fund. This would go on to allow the Vandalia to consolidate the following railroads into one corporate entity: Terre Haute & Indianapolis, Indianapolis & Vincennes, Logansport & Toledo, Terre Haute & Logansport, and the St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute. A consolidation which created the Vandalia Railroad Company on 1 January 1905.

1959 – Interstate Contract Bids

When the interstate system started being built in Indiana in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, contracts for building those roads started flying fast and furious. The interstate system came into being in 1956…and the first contracts were finally let in 1959. The Indianapolis News of 29 May 1959 reported all of the contracts that were let to that point.

First four miles of Interstate 465: “Low bid for construction of the first 4 miles of Interstate 465, the new belt highway to encircle Indianapolis, has been submitted by an Evanston (Ill.) firm. The construction contract also will include the building of 1 1/3 miles of Interstate 65 – the Indianapolis-to-Chicago expressway – northwest of Indianapolis.”

One of the things that keeps coming up when it comes to the interstates, their designations and their contracts is the actual name for I-465. Legally, that’s what it was, Interstate 465. However, for many years, until the interstate was done, or even beyond, the news media would not only refer to it as Interstate 465, but as the New State Road 100. A lot of people at the time simply saw it as a replacement for SR 100, which it was. This was also brought on by the fact that the original contracts from the state had project numbers for both roads.

This contract covered I-465 from a point north of US 136 to West 62nd Street. It would run west of High School Road through the area. The section of Interstate 65 included in this contract would run “parallel with and west of U.S. 52, from just northwest of West 65th to just southeast of High School Road.” The bid for this contract was $2,257,679.81.

The same company won the $1,705,758.49 bid to construct Interstate 74 from SR 267 in Brownsburg to just east of the Hendricks-Marion County Line. This 4.5 mile section of what the News referred to as the “Indianapolis to central Illinois expressway” would be built north of US 136.

As is typical of the way Indiana bids contracts for road projects, bridges and roads are bid separately. The above contracts did not allow for bridges…just the approaches. Bridges would be bid usually earlier than the road.

The first new Ohio River bridge linking Indiana and Kentucky in 30 years was let on a bid of $994,979.58 to Roy Ryan & Sons of Evansville. “The bridge will be double-decked, with three lanes of one way traffic on one level and three lanes of one way traffic on the other level.”

Three bridges were let on the Interstate 74 project mentioned above. Ruckman & Hansen, Inc., of Fort Wayne, won two of them. $187,129 for the bridge over Big White Lick Creek west of SR 267, and $219,553 for the bridge over SR 267. Carl M. Geupel Construction Company bid $218,712 to build a county road bridge over Interstate 74, 1.2 miles southeast of SR 267.

These were among the first contracts to be let on the new Interstate highway system in Indiana. Many more would come.

1917-1918: Indiana, Railroads and War

6 April 1917. The United States has entered World War I. And train traffic is about to become very heavy moving troops and material to the east coast to be shipped overseas. Indiana, being literally right in the middle of everything, would see the increase of that traffic first hand. And the decrease in traffic at the same time.

At the time, Indiana had six major routes crossing the state west to east: Baltimore & Ohio; Erie; New York Central/Big Four (including the Nickle Plate at that time); Pennsylvania; Southern; and Wabash. There were other railroads that were servicing the Hoosier state at the time to add into this massive amount of steel rail. Indiana had been very dependent on the railroads, to get people and freight in and out.

With the coming of World War I, and other things that happened around the same time, the lives of normal Hoosiers was about to be greatly affected. Even more so, to an extent, than the railroad people who had to do their best to supply them.

It all started with the war traffic itself. At first, there were few disruptions to the “normal.” Yes, traffic started to increase. Passenger trains were starting to be curtailed within a month of the entry of the United States into the war. The Baltimore & Ohio would be one road that was hit hard by the increasing traffic. That railroad announced in newspapers in mid May 1917 that passenger trains would be cut off to transport troops for the war effort. But, they said, it would be done to cause as little disruption to the civilian population as possible.

Another effect of the war on the railroads was simply the car shortage. This confuses people, since the idea is to take a railcar to its destination, empty it, and send it back for more loads. During World War I, this is not what happened…directly. Yes, the cars were loaded and sent east to the ports. And then they sat there, unable to be unloaded for up to months at a time. The cars would go east…and not come west for a long time, leading to a shortage of cars still trying to transport things east to go to the war.

Amidst the car shortages, coal strikes led to a shortage of coal loads to ship to the war effort. Or to the civilian population that used it to heat their houses. Many businesses would be closed several more days a week due to a shortage of heat producing coal. Towns throughout Indiana declared a day of the week as “heatless,” recommending that the public forego the use of coal on that day to extend the supply.

With the shortage of coal, and the shortage of cars to transport it, the Winter of 1917-1918 was going to be a long one. Then, it got worse. A blizzard tore across the northern part of the state in January 1918. The Indianapolis News of 28 January 1918 reports that Rochester, a city served by the Erie and the Nickle Plate roads at the time, had no traffic coming in and out of the town on that particular Monday. No new newspapers, visitors, or goods were able to get to Rochester. On top of “the observance of heatless Monday, made Rochester a dull place.” Such reports were coming in from all over the northern part of Indiana.

And with all of this going on, it was decided that the Federal Government would take over the railroads for the duration of the war in an effort to improve efficiency. This, as usual, had the opposite effect. Some of the backlog of cars would be broken up. But as Indiana’s freight started to back up for lack of transportation, the value of other forms of transport, other than the railroads, began to really come into view.

A lot of the reason for the a) downfall of the railroad and b) the major road system in Indiana can be solely laid at the feet of World War I. Not all of it, mind you. There were other factors at play. But it was World War I, and the constipation of the railroad system, that helped push Indiana into creating a State Highway Commission. While the ISHC was formed before the United States joined the war, the importance of such an organization came screaming out due to the war.

A Little Thinner

Today, I won’t be doing a blog entry about Indiana Transportation History. As ITH gets close to 500 entries, I want to explain why, if you haven’t noticed, entries are getting a little thinner around here.

First, as all of you are aware, it has been a very strange year. Most people were and/or still are locked away in their homes. This is not the case for me. I have been working this entire time. Early on, this was easy. As the “beer bug” continues, things on my end are getting back to normal. And when I say back to normal, I mean in the shortest time possible. I work in a big box retailer as a freight supervisor. The fact that stores have been out of things so much lately is now catching up as the supply system has been reset. What would normally be a three truck week this time of the year is a seven truck week.

Second. The majority of entries here comes from me having an idea, and investigating it. Nothing is ever set in stone around here. Usually, the idea leads in another direction as I find something that attracts my interest more, or most usually, something that has more information available. For instance, I STILL can’t find anything on the naming and termini of the Illinois Road out of Fort Wayne.

With the increase in work…and hours…mentioned above, ideas aren’t coming as quickly as they used to. I have been known to sit at my desk for a couple of hours before coming up with something to write about. That’s one of the reasons I keep asking what it is you, my readers, would like to see. Writing, normally, isn’t a problem. Starting is the problem.

Third. I have migrated to YouTube. A little…very little…of my time has been spent on my YouTube endeavors. Most of those include old time radio. And a new series rebroadcasting the news of World War II 81 years later. The real test is an eight hour show I do on Monday mornings (starting at 0100 EDT). And because of my love of history, I was asked to start a new channel…a history show with a guy from Winnipeg, Manitoba. None of this takes much of my time, but I can consider it a reason why things have been getting thin around here.

There are other things involved in all of this that I can’t discuss. Suffice it to say that I feel like I need to figure this out. I started this blog because of my love for both transportation and history. It’s not going anywhere. I was warned at the very beginning that I may hit a wall of subject matter. I thought that Indiana is 200 years old, and transportation has been around here longer than that…I’ll be fine.

Not quite. But I do feel that I owe my audience, you wonderful people that make this both possible and worth it, the truth about what is going on…and why things look a little thin around here. I will keep plugging away at this. This is my baby…I will not allow it to flounder.

The work situation will be getting better. The warehouses can’t be backlogged forever. Besides, I am moving to a different location…with roughly the same job…at the end of September 2020. That location is half the distance from my house. That will help quite a bit, as well.

My YouTube stuff, again, doesn’t take much time…and it helps clear my mind to see if another idea can take hold. I can’t tell you how many blog entries I have written while a video is running through its encode process over the past three months. Or when I am doing a live stream on someone else’s channel. Which I do quite a bit.

It may sound like I am running myself in a lot of directions. Yes…and no. I have to be always moving…always doing something. Usually, this creates a situation where ideas for many things come out.

I just wanted to take time to explain why things were kind of strange around here. It wasn’t until 0100 Friday morning that I realized I hadn’t written a blog for that day. Oops. So, please bare with me for the next several weeks. I promise it will get back to normal. Thank you for taking the time to spend with my ramblings over the past 18 months.

If you are interested, here is my YouTube channel… https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtebwl4U4S5knOvmDOwNTgw. Keep in mind that the live streams, known as Short Attention Span Theatre, are entities of their own. And questionable content they are, I must say.

US 52 – Lebanon to Indianapolis

When the Lebanon bypass was in process in being construction, the state wanted federal money to expand the capacity of the road. The decision made by the state, and the requirements put in place by the federal government, was going to ensure that the route of US 52 between the county seat of Boone County and the state capitol would be in a different location.

I have covered before that the route of Interstate 65 at Lebanon was built before the interstate system was even created. It was originally built as a bypass of Lebanon of US 52. The bypass was under construction in 1955. The federal law creating the interstate system came into being in 1956.

The Indianapolis News of 23 June 1955 had the following headline “New Route for U.S. 52 Forced by Federal Aid.” It was simple…the feds demanded, if Indiana wanted half of the cost paid for by the feds, that there be a 300 foot right of way for the new bypass. Which, according to the News, “would take out houses on both sides if the existing road should be widened.”

1955 USGS Topographical Map of the then current US 52 south of the
new Lebanon bypass.

At the time of the article, the Lebanon bypass was half completed (two lane traffic). Interchanges were planned at SR 32 and SR 39. Since new highways classified as limited access, 11 businesses around Lebanon would not have access to the new bypass.

At the same time, the following roads were declared limited access: US 31 between Columbus and Indianapolis; US 52 between the Lebanon bypass and Lafayette bypass; US 52 Lebanon bypass; US 52 from Lafayette to Templeton; US 41 at Morocco; US 41 from the Kankakee River to Schnieder; US 31 at Jeffersonville to SR 131; intersection of US 40 and SR 100 on the east side of Marion County; US 27 south of Fort Wayne; US 24 and US 30 east of Fort Wayne; SR 46 at Bloomington (proposed bypass); US 420 (Tri-State Highway) in Lake County; US 31 north of Uniontown; US 31 on Madison from Southern to Delaware, Indianapolis; SR 37 from Keystone to point north of Noblesville (proposed new Indianapolis-Noblesville highway).

Moving Railroad Tracks In Muncie

When rumbling through transportation history, its hard to miss the elephant in the room that is the railroads versus highways debate. And how that was mostly won by highways. And one would not be blamed for blaming that loss on the coming of the interstate highways. For years, that is what I thought. However, what appears on the surface is not always the right answer.

Since the federal government started pumping money into state highway programs in the mid-1910’s, state and local governments have been trying to find a happy medium between efficiency and the want to have every highway possible. As the call for safer and more capacity highways grew, the governments involved finally realized something that should have been completely obvious from the beginning…the railroads were there first.

And state and local governments had their hands tied. Railroads were privately owned organizations. Most of the time the same governments that wanted them to move or just go away were the ones that gave the land to build there in the first place. Unlike roads, which were getting basically a reboot at the beginning of the twentieth century, railroads were in place. With very few exceptions, they hadn’t changed much, in routing, in the 20th century. There were new lines being recommended, but very few new lines came into being after around 1900.

Then, in July 1947, an Indiana Congressman decided to introduce a bill to the U. S. House of Representatives that would help out the local governments when it came to those pesky railroads. The legislation, introduced by Congressman George Gillie, would give cities the right to require rerouting of railroads when their location was seen as a hazard to the federal highway.

Newspaper reports, especially from the Muncie Star Press of 11 July 1947, roughly detail the plan. It was covered in Muncie since that city, as well as Fort Wayne, would most likely be the beneficiaries of such legislation in Indiana.

“The bill was introduced by Representative Gillie would authorize municipalities to reroute railroads in such a manner as to eliminate a declared hazard provided the municipality first obtained from federal and state authorities a declaration that public safety would be served by railroad relocation.”

Covering the same bill, the Indianapolis Star of 10 July 1947 mentions that “Congressman Gillie’s office said the bill was intended to apply to the present routing of the Nickel Plate Railroad through Fort Wayne, the congressman’s home city.” It went on to mention that “grade crossings on the Nickel Plate’s line now affect main highway traffic through the city of Fort Wayne. A relocation project for the railroad has been in dispute for several years.”

1953 USGS Topographic Map of Muncie with the original
Nickel Plate Fort Wayne line highlighted.

Muncie had the same problem with the same railroad. The location of the Nickel Plate tracks on Madison Street, which had become, or soon would become, the routing of US 35, SR 3 and SR 67 through the city. This stemmed from the fact that the Nickel Plate line north out of Muncie to Fort Wayne ran right down the middle of Madison Street before turning slightly northeast to head out of Delaware County. The giant curve of track south of White River and McCullough Park actually entered a railroad yard on the southside of White River, through which the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Pennsylvania traveled. It would be later reconfigured to carry the Muncie-Fort Wayne mainline off of Madison Street.

The diamond that allows the Nickel Plate to cross the Bee Line, a location I have spent many a day watching trains with my friend, actually allowed the Nickel Plate to continue across its own track (the track running more east and west) and curve its way onto Madison Street. Map evidence shows that the track was gone from Madison Street by 1962.

Whether the legislation got passed or not, it is clear that the railroads were affected directly by plans of the same ilk. Muncie removed its Nickel Plate tracks from the state road. The state later removed the state road from Muncie.

Indianapolis’ Mile Square

A discussion in a Facebook group the other day got me to thinking about the original mile square that was the town of Indianapolis. Now, this topic may seem to venture a lot closer to history and really far from transportation. And mostly, I would agree with you. But today, this focuses on the “map” that someone found of Indianapolis in 1821…and the streets that actually happened.

It started with the “map” above. Someone had commented about Google Maps not having historic maps, and that they would love to see a map of Indianapolis when it appeared like this. There were many great comments about this…and how great the lay out of the town was. But it bothered me.

A map of Indianapolis never actually looked like this. Ever. The image above shows the original ideas of Alexander Ralston for the town. Also, keep in mind that Mr. Ralston only used one square mile…out of the four he was allowed…because he never thought the town would get any bigger. It was, after all, an swampy outpost in the middle of a forest.

Back to the map, and the comments. Someone had mentioned that Indianapolis is one of the most symmetric cities ever built. I had to disagree with that person on that opinion, given the location of Pogue’s Run.

When the town of Indianapolis was actually built, the streets surrounding Pogues Run were never created. Those streets (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Short) were left off of the map of the town. Instead, as shown in the 1831 map of Indianapolis below, the north-south streets were continued across the creek that would be a pain in the neck for the Hoosier capitol for almost 100 years…until it was buried.

This is just a portion of the map. And even then, I am skeptical. This image has a production date of 1906. But I am more apt to believe this one, because I have actually seen other maps within a decade or two of what date it’s supposed to be. Those maps show the same thing – Pennsylvania, Delaware, Alabama and New Jersey continue across Pogues Run.

Another difference between the 1821 plat and the 1831 map is the names of the streets around the Mile Square. Or, more to the point, the INCLUSION of those streets. On Alexander Ralston’s original plat, the streets of the town just dump into the wilderness. There are no North, South, East and West Streets. They weren’t included.

By 1831, the town had overrun the mile square. And, hence, street names were added to the edge of the original area of the Hoosier capitol.

As an aside, it is possible, using the plat of Indianapolis, to prove that 10 times 10 is 101. Look at the last platted square on both maps.

The supposed symmetry of the town was disrupted by Pogues Run. It actually got closer to symmetrical when the Carolinas and Short Street were left out. But the whole idea of symmetry went straight out the window with the very first addition to the town. And it continued from there.

Wabash And Erie Canal

On 2 March 1827, the Congress of the Unites States at Washington granted land for the states of Ohio and Indiana to build a canal from Toledo, Ohio, to Evansville, Indiana. That canal, following the Maumee and Wabash Rivers, it would connect Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Along the way, many important towns would be included, not limited to Fort Wayne, Logansport, Lafayette, Terre Haute and Evansville. What was to be an important part of Indiana transportation ended with a thud not long after construction would be completed.

The land grants given to Indiana were acted upon almost a year later with, on 5 January 1828, the General Assembly appointed three commissioner to lay out the route of the canal. Disagreements between railroad and canal interests would delay the groundbreaking for the longest canal in the United States until 22 February 1832.

Construction would be slow on the canal. Part of this would be attributable to the sheer length of the project: 460 miles. Another contributing factor would be the fact that canal building, by its nature, is a slow process requiring lots of both manual labor and engineering. By 1837, construction was moving along when the economic Panic of that year hit the United States. The canal had reached from Fort Wayne to Logansport by that time. Most of the internal improvement projects in Indiana came close to a halt. The Wabash & Erie was no exception. Construction continued…but on a very curtailed pace.

Further construction would continue, however. By 1843, the canal connected Toledo to Lafayette. Five years later, it reached Terre Haute. And five years after that, in 1853, construction was completed to Evansville. This marked the completion of the entire canal, and water traffic, albeit slowly, could traverse from Lake Erie to the Mississippi River and beyond unencumbered. This would not last, however. It should be noted here that the section from Worthington to Evansville had the original name of the Central Canal, and as such would be included as part of the Wabash & Erie.

Dawson’s Fort Wayne Weekly Times of 20 November 1859 reported that the canal would be closed soon to navigation. Whether that would be for the winter or for good was never explained in the short blurb in the newspaper. This was after citizens along the canal route had written a letter to the General Assembly in February 1859 commenting that the state should give money to the canal company in an effort to shore up its horrible finances to keep it open. Their argument being that even though the canal has been a financial failure, it has served a vital function in opening up, and maintaining markets to, the towns along its path.

Another argument is that the federal government gave the state 1.6 million acres of land to build the canal, which the state did sell excess portions of. The state owes it to the canal, and to the people along the route, to make good on their duties to keep the canal running.

It would fall on mostly deaf ears.

Most of the problems with the canal were natural. The soft topsoil of Indiana led to a lot of dredging needed along the entire route. This along required a lot of money. Add to it the native animals of Indiana, especially muskrats, that would burrow through the canal walls. Keeping the canal open was a constant, and expensive, job.

While portions of the canal would start closing to traffic as early as 1859, the ultimate end came at Terre Haute in 1876, when the canal company, then based there, decided to start selling off canal lands. The last canal boat would make its run from Huntington in 1874. By then, a majority of the canal had fallen into disuse and disrepair. Parts of it were filled in to create wagon trails. Other parts were sold to railroad companies (read Wabash, among others) for the railroad right-of-way. Parts would, in 1926, become part of US 24.

There are several places in which the canal route is marked or even sections of the actual canal maintained. In 1991, while construction I-469 near Fort Wayne, an original canal lock was found buried in the ground. That lock, Gronauer Lock No. 2, would be partially preserved. Parts of that lock are in the Indiana State Museum.

Another remnant of the canal age, and a piece of what was to become the southern part of what became the Wabash & Erie, is the Central Canal through Indianapolis. The Central Canal was to connect the Wabash & Erie at Logansport, through Indianapolis, to Worthington and beyond to Evansville. When the original Central Canal project fell through, the southern part of that project became lumped with the Wabash & Erie.

Bus Service At the End of the Interurban Era

As the electric traction, or interurban, trains ran across Indiana, they provided a service that many Hoosiers took for granted. The interurban covered much of the state, allowing passengers to get almost anywhere. Some companies grew very large from the consolidation of the interurban cars and the street railways in the cities. Union Traction, the company that provided service from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, via Fort Harrison, Anderson, Muncie and Marion, actually owned the city street railway in Muncie…among others. The same company that owned a majority of the traction routes out of Indianapolis also owned the city trolley cars lines in both Indianapolis and Terre Haute.

The problem was, the writing was on the wall.

Part of what made the interurbans possible was the fact that the companies made their own electricity…and sold it to people along the line. The company that owned the Greenwood line was called Interstate Public Service. When the Federal Government required the power companies and the traction companies to become separate entities, the barely money making trains became anchors around the necks of the companies left to take care of them. Interstate Public Service changed the name of its power company to Public Service Indiana.

But the transportation service was still vital to the residents of Indiana. Or it least it was through the 1930’s and 1940’s. Something had to be done to make sure that people could get around the state, and through the cities, but still not spend a ton of losing money on the proposition. And soon, the electric traction train cars were replaced with diesel bus service in many places.

Indianapolis was known, at the time, for having the largest Traction Terminal in the world. But by 1926, part of it had already become known at the Traction Terminal Bus Station. Interurban trolley cars and buses were already using the same facility by 1926…half a decade before the train cars started disappearing from the landscape of the Hoosier state.

By that time, most of the interurban companies were already running charter bus services. As the advertisement to the left shows, the Interstate Public Service Company was running chartered bus service. This ad is from the Indianapolis Star of 5 June 1926. One of the Interstate Public Service excursions included bus service to Brown County. The round trip was $3.00. And you could add a chicken dinner in Brown County Park for $1.00.

Union Traction, mentioned above, ran a bus from Indianapolis to Turkey Run every Sunday. It left the Traction Terminal Bus Station at 0700, arriving at the park at 1000. Its return trip was completed at 2200 Sunday night when it arrived back at the Traction Terminal.

In 1932, the Indiana Railroad Company, owner of most of the traction lines radiating out of Indianapolis (they leased the interurban companies…the biggest of which was the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern, owner of a lot of interurban tracks and city services), decided to call an end to the tracked interurban rail service from Indianapolis to Dunreith. That service supported Greenfield. The government of Greenfield found itself suing the traction company for continuation of service. But there was service. The Indiana Railroad had replaced the traction cars with bus service provided by the Indiana Motor Transit Company. Yes, the Indiana Transit Company was owned by the Indiana Railroad. But that bus company continued service from Indianapolis to Dunreith, where it met the interurban train making the Richmond-New Castle-Indianapolis run. Starting on 6 January 1932, that bus service ran twelve trips, each way, daily. Busses left Indianapolis at 0800, 0915, 1245, 1430, 1600, 1645, 1715, 1740, 1810, 2015 and 2315.

But it still wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for the transit companies. Even with the use of busses, the companies were still losing tons of money during the 1930’s. The Great Depression raged on throughout the decade…and slight money makers in good times were absolute money losers in bad. And with the exception of rural people trying to get to shopping in the urban area, a lot of the traffic had been curtailed as non-essential.

Busses would completely replace the Indianapolis-Anderson-Muncie-Marion-Fort Wayne line on 18 January 1941. The last of the Indiana Railroad traction cars would run that night, making the final run of the interurban line. The traction cars started running through Muncie in 1900 as the Union Traction Company. In 1930, it became part of the Indiana Railroad.

But busses weren’t the only thing that replaced the traction cars. There was still quite a bit of small freight running along the electric traction lines. This service was replaced with trucks. The bus service along the Union Traction line was maintained for Lawrence, McCordsville, Ingals, Pendleton, Anderson, Muncie, Chesterfield, Daleville, Yorktown, Royerton, Hartford City, Montpelier, Fiat, Nottingham, Petroleum, Reiffsburg, Bluffton, Ossian and Fort Wayne. Service from Muncie to New Castle included Cowan, Oakville, Springport, and Mount Summit. Fort Harrison, Fortville, Shideler and Eaton were also added to the old Union Traction line bus service.

The interurban companies all found their way into providing bus service. And these busses, like the train cars before them, fanned out across the state providing passengers and freight a way to get from point a to point b. But just like the interurbans before them, the busses found themselves on the way out. Reducing ridership suffered by both the interurban bus services and the steam railroads led to an end of the majority of those services. The day of twelve busses a day moving along the National Road between Indianapolis and Richmond would be gone. First, the numbers of bus trips went down daily. Then it became a weekly trip. Then the bus company just gave up and ended the trips all together. Hoosiers were using far more cars than ever, making busses unprofitable or even impossible to run.

Let’s Share…

Today’s Indiana Transportation History blog will be a short one. And not much information. But there is a method to my madness.

I have, sometimes, hundreds of readers. And you all have come to ITH for one reason or another. Most are interested in history. Some are road geeks. Some are railfans. I happen to be all of the above.

What I want to know is this…what is something in your area that you find intriguing, puzzling, interesting, etc., about Indiana Transportation History? What would you like to share with the ITH community about your neck of the woods. And even if it isn’t about Indiana, there has to be a reason you are interested in this subject that is specifically Indiana.

Other than the topics that I have covered over the past 18 months, two that hit home for me lately are the sheer emptiness of the Hoosier landscape and the concept of a shunpike.

The City of Indianapolis has been doing construction on German Church Road. For the first two weeks, we were unable to use the road southbound. This made for an interesting detour either down Mitthoeffer Road or Muessing Road to Prospect Street, then back up German Church to my subdivision which is 3/10 of a mile south of Washington Street…aka where German Church was closed.

For the next four weeks, German Church was closed northbound, which meant getting to shopping…aka Walmart or Meijer…took as long to drive to as it does for me to walk there. Literally.

I realize that there were nothing but farms out here…thus creating a detour of over four miles to get to a point that is 1.5 miles away. I joked with some friends on YouTube that I wanted a roast beef sandwich, but wasn’t driving five miles to get one when I can walk 1/2 a mile to the same Arby’s restaurant.

The other idea that I may someday figure out how to flesh out to a full entry is the concept of the Shunpike. For those that are not familiar with the term, back in the 1840’s through 1890’s, most major roads in Indiana were owned by toll road companies. Along the way, locals built roads that roughly paralleled the toll roads, if they could, to avoid paying the toll.

That brings me back to Prospect Street and my four mile detour. Most people don’t know this, but it is possible to get from Irvington to Greenfield using two old paths. The most direct (duh) way was the National Road. It still is. However, if you wanted to avoid the tolls, starting at what is now Arlington Avenue, you can travel east on what is now English Avenue/Rawles Avenue to either Post or Mitthoeffer Roads, turn south, and take Prospect Street all the way to SR 9 south of Greenfield. (Although my bet is that the road into Greenfield itself involved what is now Franklin Street.)

Using this circuitous route, travelers could get from Irvington to Greenfield without paying a toll. Turning left on Franklin Street, and traveling one mile north, then turning right, it was possible to get as far as Knightstown without paying a toll.

There are many such roads all over the state. I chose that one because, well, it is at the end of the block from me…if you took out all the streets added by the subdivisions built over the last 30 years. My back fence is on the survey line that is halfway between the correction line at what is now 10th Street and the survey line that makes the center of Prospect Street.

So….what I am asking from you is to share what you find interesting in your area. Maybe there is someone in your area that has the same interests or questions? Who knows, maybe we can come up with a subject for a new blog entry?

And I am always a fan of audience interaction. I now run a YouTube channel…and the first rule that I have always lived by is “know the audience.” I would like to know a little more about you folks that make this a labor of love for me…and have since February 2019. Almost 500 entries ago.

National Road Through Richmond

When the National Road was surveyed through Indiana, it had the distinct honor of being one of the straightest roads in the state…another being the Michigan Road. This was on purpose. Most roads through the state were built around whatever was in the way. Very few roads were built for getting from point a to point b in the quickest way possible. That was left to the state to buy the property necessary to do that.

One notable exception is through Richmond.

The area around Richmond started being settled around 1806. By the time the National Road surveyors got there in the early 1830’s, the town had already been established. And in the way of the nearly straight as a board road coming from the Ohio capital of Columbus. So when the road got to Richmond, it made sense to run it straight down Main Street. And that’s what happened.

However, on the west bank of the Whitewater River, upon which Richmond sits, the continuation of the straight line from Ohio would be continued. This would mean that the road would actually start again south of its location through Richmond. One block south, as a matter of fact. This led to the layout of Richmond, and the road, as shown in the following 1840 map snippet.

On this map, it is labeled Cumberland Road.

As you can see, the Cumberland Road is opposite Walnut Street on the west side of the Whitewater River. That would be South A Street today. The name change of the streets would occur sometime before 1893, as shown in the 1893 snippet below.

The National Road bridge over the Whitewater River would be built in the location shown on the first two snippets in 1832. The same bridge served residents of Wayne County and travelers on the National Road for 65 years. News reports across the state were reporting that deconstruction of the bridge would occur in August 1897. (Source: Muncie Evening Press, 13 August 1897) It was reported in the source newspaper that “the work of removing the old National road bridge at Richmond, Ind., will begin next week.”

The slight variations in the location of the bridge between the 1840 and 1893 maps are just that, slight variations and could be attributed to slight errors. A measurement here or there could change the map by a few feet…which looks like the case here. Another map, this time from 1853, shows the same area, more like the 1840 map than the 1893 variety.

The original structure was a very large affair…at least for that time. It was easily as large as the National Road bridge at Indianapolis. The Richmond Palladium-Item of 21 October 1962 did an article on a painter from Centerville that had done two paintings of the old bridge. A picture from the article is below.

Another view drawn of the bridge was published in 1911 in Century Magazine. It would accompany an article about the old bridge written by a Richmond native. That drawing is shown to the left.

In 1916, it was reported in the Cambridge City Tribune of 3 February 1916, that “the total cost of the construction of the temporary bridge across Whitewater at the location of the old National road bridge at Richmond was $4,895, of which the county, city and traction company each pay one-third, or $1,798.” I can find no news story about why a temporary crossing of the river was necessary.

The original route, more or less, of the National Road through Richmond would become Main Market Road 3 in 1917. That designation would be changed to State Road 3 in 1919. The slight difference would be on the west side of the river, where the state road followed First Street, not the river, to travel between Main Street and National Road. By this time, a third bridge over the Whitewater River was serving as the facility to cross that wide gorge. On 1 October 1926, SR 3 would be forever changed to US 40.

1962 USGS Topo map of US 40 through Richmond.

In 1998, INDOT decided to build a new bridge across the river, and reroute the old National Road/US 40 through the city of Richmond. This would put the road on its current path through the city, leaving Main Street out of the mix, at least west of 11th Street, as the major thoroughfare for the first time in almost 200 years. The city of Richmond took over the then abandoned route of US 40, creating a more plaza like environment along the historic street.

The new US 40 bridge that was completed in 2000 was advertised as the fourth bridge to serve as the National Road crossing of the Whitewater. I suppose, in a way, this is true. However, the historic crossing was closer to Main Street, which still has a bridge facility across the wide gorge. Not that I have heard arguments over the issue, it is one that road geeks and historians (or, in my case, both) will probably be discussing for years to come.

Michigan Road at White River

Indiana tends to be an enigma. The people, generally, tend to look at maintaining the status quo when it comes to government and institutions. Yet, somehow, the motto of “progress, progress, progress” rings when it comes to places and roads of historic value. There has been a lot of history torn out around Indiana in the name of progress. And this is very evident when it comes to the paths and trails that served Indiana, but are best left either bypassed or destroyed by the march of progress.

Indianapolis News, 30 August 1919

This subject started while looking for an article about the Michigan Road…and it being accepted into the state highway system. I will have to get back to that subject at some point. Anyway, I found an article in the Indianapolis News talking about the Michigan Road Bridge over White River (the one near Butler University) with the headline “Michigan Road Bridge Over White River, Numbered Among The Doomed, Will Give Way To A Modern Structure As Its Contemporaries Did.”

The bridge in question had been there so long that locals didn’t know what the County Commissioners were talking about when they called it the Northwestern Avenue bridge. It had always been (and still is today) the Michigan Road bridge, calling back to the time when the road was the primary north-south route from Indianapolis to South Bend. “The pioneers forget that Indianapolis is a growing city, and that the one far distant Michigan road bridge is now at the edge of town.”

The News goes on to talk about the interesting and romantic history of the old bridge. First, the talk of the cycling path for the days that riding a bicycle was all the rage. The cycling path in question ran along the southern/eastern bank of the Central Canal at the southern end of the Michigan Road bridge. A toll house on the cycle path (apparently, the path was a toll road for bicycles) was located at the Michigan Road bridge. “Wheelmen,” as bicyclists were called at the time, would detour to the cycle path to ride toward downtown. The cycle path would later cross Northwestern Avenue later, near 16th Street.

The White River sits between two rather large hills along the Michigan Road. When the age of the automobile came, climbing out of the White River valley was quite the chore. Of course, these hills were a challenge to the bicycles before the cars…and the horses before the bicycles. By 1919, the treacherous hills on both sides of the valley had been reduced in grade. In the early days of automobiles, the two hills were used for engine testing in hill climbs. Announcements months in advance would tell of the coming time to test your motors climbing the Michigan Road hills.

Closeup of the above image from the Indianapolis News showing just the Northwestern Avenue (Michigan Road) bridge over White River.

The bridge that was in place in 1919 was a replacement for an original wooden covered bridge at the site. “It has been gone for many years, having failed to stand up under heavy and constantly increasing strain of travel over the Michigan road.” The first image in this article also shows the Northwestern Avenue bridge over Fall Creek, or at least the one that had been replaced prior to publication of the 30 August 1919 article.

Despite the amount of traffic carried by the Michigan Road, it would take several more years before this section would once again become a state road. The replacement of the bridge over White River was taken on by Marion County, not the state.

Planning I-465…and Arguments

When the planning for Interstate 465 was underway, to say that it was a bit contentious can be, at times, an understatement. This was especially true on the east and north sides of the loop. Most arguments made against the plan of the interstate were legal in nature. One actually turned violent.

The first discussion that I found involved arguments of the legal kind involving the northern leg of 465. An injunction was sought to stop further public discussions concerning the building of the road. The court proceedings were in May 1961. Arthur H. Gemmer, attorney, represented some 40 people against the interstate, and its construction near 96th Street. The argument was that the State Highway Commission broke a 1945 state statute by not consulting county and city officials as to the location of the road.

The remonstrators wanted to halt hearings on the proposed route until the Bureau of Public Roads could rule on the appeal they filed about the location. The court hearing was simply for an injunction to stop the hearings, because the court in question did not have jurisdiction over the road proposals. The remonstrators hoped, in the end, that the interstate would be pushed further north into Hamilton County, as opposed to the 96th Street corridor as originally designed (and later built).

Two months later, on 13 July 1961, the same remonstrators were involved in an actual violent argument at North Central High School at an I-465 planning meeting. The meeting was already advertised as not going to be turned into a legal battleground. That didn’t stop an attorney to attempt introducing legal briefs into the meeting.

The leader of the meeting, Oral S. Craig of the State Highway Department, told the attorney to be seated, and a number of the 400 people at the meeting started shouting angrily.

Especially contentious was the area around Spring Mill Road and the proposed highway. One man, a Stanley Valinet, contended that plans for a $2.5 million shopping center at the corner of Spring Mill Road and 96th Street had been approved two years prior. Part of that land would be part of the plan for a cloverleaf interchange at US 31 and I-465. The state argued that the “construction” of the shopping center only started after publication of the proposed routes, and that the entire construction to that point involved several sections of concrete block foundation.

At that meeting, it was pointed out that “Line E,” or the proposed preferred alternative, involved removing 66 homes from Shadeland Avenue to Boone County. The “Line D” proposal would have taken out 83 homes in the same distance.

Indianapolis News, 6 July 1960, showing the chosen preferred route of Interstate 465 on the north side, and two of the abandoned choices. (Also note the “Proposed Ind. 100” running north and south west of Zionsville Road.)

The last discussion about the proposed I-465 involved the east side location of the road. The Warren Civic Association made an appointment to meet with state highway officials on 13 September 1961. The meeting was to try to convince those officials to move the proposed route of I-465 three miles to the east. State and Federal officials had already approved the location of the road, but construction would be in a holding pattern until the location of the northern leg of the highway was settled.

Part of the issue were 14 homes that were built in the proposed path of the interstate…after the plans for the route were announced. Each of those homes cost approximately $30,000. “The state of Indiana is going to pay through the nose,” stated Lloyd C. Fleetwood, Warren Civic Association Vice President.

Moving the route three miles to the east would eliminate the need to tear down a residential area, as there was no such thing further east. Such a location would have put the interstate at or near Cumberland. But officials at both the state and federal levels had already, repeatedly, ruled against the proposal. It didn’t stop them from trying, however.

There were more “discussions” concerning the locations and designs of I-465. Especially contentious was the 21st Street grade crossing on the west side of Marion County. The north leg would be the hardest part to get built, as from proposal decision to completion took almost a decade.

Vincennes: The Lincoln Memorial Bridge

Few people in American history hold a place as high as Abraham Lincoln. The Kentucky native that became the 16th President of the United States, also spent time living in Indiana before moving on to Illinois, where he would become famous throughout the nation. It was decided that a bridge, supposedly marking the spot where Lincoln crossed into Illinois, would be built to connect Indiana and Illinois. It became the Lincoln Memorial Bridge.

The George Rogers Clark Memorial was soon to be constructed in Vincennes. As part of that memorial, a celebration on 3 September 1933 to dedicate a new bridge at Vincennes connecting Indiana and Illinois were scheduled. The date chosen for the dedication of the bridge was the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, bringing an end to the War for Independence and the creation of the United States of America as a separate country.

The Abraham Lincoln (George Rogers Clark) Memorial Bridge as shown in the Indianapolis News of 28 April 1934.

The bridge, when it was built, would carry US 50 across the Wabash from Vincennes, Indiana, to Lawrence County, Illinois. It would become a major link in that road for several decades. It would be a replacement of a bridge that spanned the Wabash from Main Street in Vincennes for many years.

The high approaches on the Indiana side were due to requirements by the War Department. The Munster, Indiana, Times of 17 July 1931 states that “rigid war department requirements forced the engineers to give the 1,850-foot bridge a clearance of 50 feet above the normal water level on the theory that some time navigation might be resumed in the Wabash.”

At one point, the plan of the city of Vincennes, and Knox County, was to build a boulevard between the George Rogers Clark Memorial and the Wabash River for the rerouting of US 41 along the new route. I am not sure if it was part of the plan, but Culbertson Boulevard runs from Main Street north to Hart Street between the railroad and the river. The US 41 idea never materialized.

In 1936, the bridge, as well as US 50, would be closed for one day. Sunday, 14 June 1936, would see the closing of US 50 in both Indiana and Illinois as the George Rogers Clark Memorial was dedicated at Vincennes. For four and half hours, detours of over 40 miles were in place as festivities were held to celebrate the GRC Historic Park dedication. Chief among those that would be on site would be President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge still stands today, almost 90 years after the concrete structure was built. Yes, US 50 has been rerouted around Vincennes. The bridge now serves as Indiana State Road 441. And, according to Google Maps, the same road number in Illinois, although on the ground, there are no such markers in place that I have ever seen.

1836-1838: Michigan Road in the Newspaper

Yesterday, I wrote an article about early state roads, and the Michigan Road. Today, I want to look at the Michigan Road…as it was related to the public in newspapers from 1836 to 1838. One of the most interesting things that I have found in this search is the fact that it was entirely possible that the Michigan Road, as we know it, might not have been built. It could have been a railroad route.

Richmond Weekly Paladium, 31 December 1836: Allocation of money involving the Michigan Road was the topic before the General Assembly in December 1836. $140,000 was appropriated “on a turnpike road commencing at Kirk’s on the Michigan road in Clinton county, thence through Frankfort to Delphi and Monticello in White county, and thence by best route to Michigan City.” Another $75,000 are allocated for the Michigan Road between Napoleon and Indianapolis. And yet another $175,000 is appropriated “in contructing a Macadamized road on the line of the Michigan road from Indianapolis to South Bend, thence to Laporte and thence to Michigan City The board are to ascertain whether a Macadamised road or rail road is the best and cheapest and to adopt the cheapest one.” Of this last allocation of funds, $25,000 was to be used to build a Michigan Road bridge in Marion County over the White River.

Richmond Weekly Paladium, 21 January 1937: Second reading of the Michigan Road bill is held. One representative, a Mr. Vandeveer, moved to indefinitely postpone the vote on the bill. That postponement failed, when only seven people voted for it. It was passed to the third reading. A survey of the road, with $2,000 allocated, was to be done in the summer of 1837. The bill was amended, requiring the third reading. In the amendment, the bill was changed to exclude the Board of Public Works to building either a M’Adam road or a railroad for the purpose of the Michigan Road. It was also mentioned that $300,000 was to be allocated for the building of the road. Two weeks later, that amount, and others already spent, would be the question of some members of the General Assembly.

Richmond Weekly Paladium, 04 February 1937: It was reported that the representative from Wayne County to the Indiana General Assembly, a Mr. Smith, was trying to make sense of the fact that the builders of the Michigan Road, already spending $22,000 more than allocated, wanted another $30,000. To this point, according to Mr. Smith, the money already allocated “has been squandered – sunk, sir, in the interminable swamps along the line without common discretion or common sense. What gentleman here will deny the fact, that one half the money expended on that road should have accomplished more than all that is done?”

On the very same page of the very same issue of the newspaper, a bill to “cause a survey and estimate to be made the ensuing summer, north of Indianapolis, through Logansport, South Bend and Laporte to Michigan City, with a view of ascertaining what kind of improvement is most practicable.” This survey would be done under the auspices of the Board of Internal Improvements.

Richmond Weekly Paladium, 1 July 1837: “Mr. Yandes, is authorized, in pursuance of law to cause a survey and estimate to be made, on the Michigan Road, through Logansport, South Bend and Laporte, to Michigan City – with a view of ascertaining the most practicable kind of improvement to be made.” Mr. Yandes “is further authorized, to expend so much of the Michigan road funds, as may remain (if any) after making the survey, in making temporary improvements on the Road, from Napoleon to Lake Michigan, so as to keep the road passible.”

Richmond Weekly Paladium, 16 December 1837: After the survey had been completed in the summer of 1837, the Michigan Road lands were to be disposed of. The report from Indianapolis stated that the proceeds of the sales of those lands came to $8781.70.

As mentioned in yesterday’s “Early State Roads” article, some state roads were funded to create a link to a single person’s property. In March, 1838, a bill before the general assembly was written to “locate a state road from Daniel Dales in White county, to intersect the Michigan road 8 miles north of Logansport.”

Early State Roads

An oft-heard claim when I am out an about is that the Michigan Road was Indiana’s first state road. While I will never deny the importance of that road (heck, my job is on the Michigan Road in Hamilton County, and I use the section in Shelby County quite a bit to visit the in-laws), it is not, by far, the first. It was the first to connect the state from north to south, but not the first in general.

The National Road, in its importance as well, was finished before the Michigan Road. And even then, the National Road was preceded by a less known road called the Centerville State Road. When the National Road came into being, any reference to the older state road became lost to history. I covered that road here: The Tail of Two Roads: National Road and Centerville State Road.

But the idea of state roads in early Indiana was completely different that it is today. Any look at newspapers of the late 1820’s through the late 1830’s would show a long list of state roads spanning the state in all kinds of directions for all kinds of purposes. A common criticism of the state road “program,” such as it was, in the early days is that the state would build a road to a specific person’s land, or ferry, or whatever. If it was politically expedient to build to Miller’s Ferry over the Smallerthana River, such a road was built. Or, more to the point, financed to be built.

There was no central authority when it came to state roads in that era. As a matter of fact, those early roads financed by the state were actually passed into law by the General Assembly. So the vast system of roads that were financed by state money, the very definition of a state road in the early days, had to have majority approval to be constructed. So the very notion of political favors became very important if Mr. Miller wanted to get some state money to connect his ferry over the Smallerthana to the towns of Widespot and Tensalloons on either side.

A lot of the early state roads, however, did serve the governments of the state and counties. Many roads were financed that would connect county seats to one another, or to Indianapolis (technically a county seat, as well). The above mentioned Centerville Road was built from Indianapolis to the then county seat of Wayne County…Centerville (or, as it was originally, Centreville). Richmond, at that time, was a just a town close to the Ohio State line on the Whitewater River.

As the state grew, the state roads that had originally been built to service the county seats no longer did so in some cases. In the article The National Road, and County Seats, I mentioned that when the National Road was surveyed, it connected three county seats of the eight counties it traversed: Wayne County (Centerville); Marion County (Indianapolis); and Vigo County (Terre Haute). Two would be added later. First would be Greenfield (Hancock County), platted specifically on the National Road. Next would be Brazil (Clay County), which would become the county seat after having been moved from Bowling Green.

As the state capital, Indianapolis had more than its share of state roads emanating from it. In a circle starting at the north, Indianapolis had the Westfield State Road, Fort Wayne State Road (Allisonville Road), Pendleton State Road, National Road (Washington Street), Brookville State Road, Michigan Road (Southeastern Avenue), Shelbyville State Road, Madison State Road, Leavenworth State Road (Meridian Street), Paoli State Road (Bluff Road), Mooresville State Road, National Road (again), Rockville State Road, Danville State Road (10th Street), Crawfordsville State Road, and the Lafayette State Road. That doesn’t include several that cross through Marion County without actually going to Indianapolis. The one that comes to mind is the Noblesville-Franklin State Road (Franklin Road), which would connect the two title towns via Fenton, Lanesville, Lawrence and Fisher’s Station.

And here the other major difference in early state roads and the modern variety comes screaming into the spotlight. When the state General Assembly approved a road, the financing was done by the state. The road wouldn’t belong to the state. As soon as construction was complete, the state would turn the road over to the county. If it was to be maintained, the county was responsible for it, not the state. The major reason that turnpikes and toll roads came into being at all was due to the fact that the counties had “state roads” going every which direction, sometimes for no appreciable reason, that the County Commissioners were responsible for keeping passable. Honestly, most counties failed in this. Hence, sell the road, let someone else take care of it, and the county gets an influx of cash they don’t have to spend on roads.

One last point. The words “state road construction” gives the impression that there were actually roads built. This was mostly not true. The state would spend the money to improve the road, not (usually) build a new facility. A quick glance at any map of Indiana, even todays, show a bunch of roads that start, run for a while, turn for no apparent reason, run some more, and just appear to end in the middle of nowhere. Two examples that come to mind from the Indianapolis area are the Shelbyville Road and the Mooresville Road.

The latter would become the route for SR 22 in 1917, and SR 67 in 1926. A look at the twists and turns in that road would give anyone a good idea why there has been a LOT of moving around of SR 67 over the past 100 years. The former leaves Marion County as Shelbyville Road, then just ends in eastern Johnson County. Or, at least as it is marked. I have been trying to trace the old state road from Indianapolis to Shelbyville. In Indianapolis, it starts as Shelby Street. In Shelbyville, it starts as Boggsville Road. In between, it gets really kind of fun.

But this was due to the fact that Indiana really only built, from scratch, one state road. Most were improvements county roads that were already in place. That one state road that Indiana had built brings us back to the start of this article: The Michigan Road. The state did build that one from scratch. In that case, I guess that DOES make the Michigan Road the first state road in Indiana. It all comes down to semantics. It doesn’t really matter in the end. With the creation of the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1917, the concept of the state road would change. And most of the Michigan Road would ultimately, once again, become a state road.